55.8 F
Los Angeles

La Caña Is No Longer “Idle”

NoHo’s La Caña is restored and will open as the Idle Hour Café on February 13.

We’ve admired it, looked at it in awe or were confused by it. But no matter what the reaction, we can say that the old “La Caña” restaurant in North Hollywood is an architectural treasure. Well, NoHo, the folks at the 1933 Group have been hard at work to restore this historic restaurant and we will finally get to take a look inside at the all new Idle Hour Café starting on Friday, February, 13, 2015.

With nearly 75 years of history to preserve and reinvent, 1933 Group reintroduces Idle Hour to North Hollywood as a throwback to the dawning of L.A’s car culture and the Programmatic architecture that flourished in response. 1933 Group, known for their vintage-inspired bars, revives Idle Hour’s long-dormant character, bringing to life the original prominence of the barrel-shaped bar while heralding a new era of neighborhood-focused service. Pouring classic and simple whiskey cocktails and draft craft beers alongside creative American cuisine, Idle Hour tips its hat to the past while living up to the standards of the present.

La Cana www.nohoartsdistrict.comPhoto Courtesy of Kathee Starr

Say goodbye to La Caña and hello Idle Hour Café. Below is a fun fact sheet on the Idle Hour Café in the NoHo Arts District.

Idle Hour Cafe historic photo www.nohoartsdistrict.com
Photo Courtesy of the 1933 Group


Idle Hour’s structure is a survivor of L.A.’s Programmatic architecture movement, which bloomed alongside the automobile in the early 1940s. As California’s residents and visitors began driving down the boulevards instead of walking, business owners opted for instantly recognizable buildings to do the duty previously filled by window signage. Idle Hour, in order to be noticed by quickly passing motorists, resembled a whiskey barrel, while other quick-serve locations built up in the shapes of tea kettles, doughnuts, and other wildly oversized objects to represent their operations. Adopting a thematic design quickly grabbed the attention of motorists while also representing the business’s purpose. Programmatic architecture survives as a relic of Hollywood’s past, an unexpected yet instantly iconic result of the city’s historic car culture.


Michael D. Connolly, a film technician for Universal Studios, commissioned Idle Hour Café in 1941, and the iconic barrel structure was built by engineer George F. Fordyk. Idle Hour Café thrived as a taproom up through the 1960s, and then it became a Flamenco dinner theater in 1971 called La Caña. From 1984 until 2009, after closing the club, La Caña Owner Dolores Fernandez lived in the second-story apartment. The building achieved landmark status as Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #977 in 2010 after Fernandez’s departure and due to the work of Chris Nichols, a writer for Los Angeles magazine.


The whiskey barrel-shaped cedar structure and its two flanking wings showcase subtle decorations to complement the original structure. Plenty of care went into reviving Idle Hour’s inherent style, including the original stained glass adorning the ceiling and every door. Floors consist of reclaimed ceiling planks, while the walls feature vintage photographs of other Programmatic buildings. A ficus tree shades the expansive patio which also features a communal fire pit.


Another example of Programmatic architecture sits on the patio of Idle Hour, a testament to 1933 Group’s devotion to useful preservation. The pipe-smoking bulldog, known as Bulldog Café from 1928 until the mid-1960s, is actually a reproduction of the original eatery rescued from L.A.’s world-renowned Petersen Museum. At Idle Hour, Bulldog Café serves as private event space for up to 15 guests and is open to all curious diners when not reserved.


Idle Hour’s unmistakable structure is a page torn right out of American history, and the menu holds true to this heritage as well, focusing on American classics. Executive Chef Sam Hoke makes food intended to bring guests back to Grandma’s house with some new takes on good old-fashioned dishes. Come summertime, Idle Hour launches smoke outs and barbecues in the large back patio area, offering a variety of cured, smoked, and slow-roasted treats.

  • Braised Bacon Egg Sandwich, braised bacon, crisp romaine, red onion and tomato jam
  • Hot Dog, kielbasa, housemade sauerkraut, mustard and relish



Idle Hour’s bar pays homage to the building that houses it, serving from a diverse and abundant stock of whiskey. Chris Amirault of Harlowe, who also oversees the beverage program, creates a neighborhood bar ambiance, inviting whether someone comes in for a mixed drink or a beer and a shot. The menu includes classics-inspired cocktails on draught, house-bottled, and always hand-crafted; distinctive and seasonal craft brews, as well as rotating beer cocktails; create-your-own Boilermaker, or whiskey with a beer chaser; and nonalcoholic options also on draft.

  • Draft Swizzle, Mount Gay Black Barrel Rum, Appleton 12, lime juice, mint, sugar, and bitters
  • Doctor’s Orders, Rye, Cognac, black tea, lemon, and honey
  • Mazel Mazel, mezcal, Ancho Reyes Ancho Chili Liqueur, lime, watermelon juice, and salt


1933 Group is one of the preeminent hospitality firms in Los Angeles, specializing in bars that transport guests to other eras and locales through distinctive, vintage designs. Founded in 1998, the company is highly acclaimed for superb handcrafted cocktails and environments that inspire imagination through authentic Old and New World design elements, complemented by an exceptional level of service. The company currently operates seven different venues: Harlowe, Oldfield’s, Sassafras, Bigfoot Lodge, Bigfoot West, La Cuevita, and Thirsty Crow. In early 2015, 1933 Group debuts Idle Hour in North Hollywood.

**** For information on Los Angeles theatre, tickets to theatre in North Hollywood’s NoHo Arts District, theatre reviews, the NoHo Event Calendar, restaurants, news and local businesses in NoHo, or anything and everything about the NoHo Arts Community, bookmark nohoartsdistrict.com. Follow us on Twitter @OfficialNoHo.

Lisa Bianconi

Author: Lisa Bianconi

Editor of www.nohoartsdistrict.com

Lisa Bianconi
Editor of www.nohoartsdistrict.com